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Agonal Breaths

Pronunciation: AG-uh-nuhl BRETHS

Agonal Breaths refer to abnormal, shallow, or labored breaths that occur when the brain is deprived of oxygen. They are often mistaken for real breathing but are a sign of a serious medical emergency, often associated with cardiac arrest.

What are Agonal Breaths?

They are gasping, irregular breaths that happen when an individual is unconscious and not genuinely breathing adequately or effectively. These breaths are infrequent and do not provide sufficient oxygen to support life.

Key Facts About Agonal Breaths:

  • Not a sign of life: They are a reflex action and don’t mean the person is recovering or breathing normally.
  • They can be noisy or silent.
  • They can be mistaken for normal breathing, which may delay essential emergency treatment.

Agonal Breaths | Importance & Necessity

Why are recognizing these breaths important?

Understanding the reasons include:

  • Ensures immediate and appropriate medical intervention.
  • Prevents delay in starting CPR.
  • Reduces the risk of brain damage and increases chances of survival.

Who needs to understand what Agonal Breaths are?

  • Healthcare professionals.
  • Emergency responders like EMTs and paramedics.
  • Bystanders and lay rescuers performing CPR.

Agonal Breaths | Identification & Action

How to identify Agonal Breaths during an emergency?

  1. Infrequency: Unlike regular breathing, agonal breaths are sporadic.
  2. Appearance: They may look like a gasp or snort.
  3. Absence of other signs of life: No pulse or consciousness accompanying the breaths.

What action should be taken if someone is having Agonal Breaths?

Immediate steps include:

  1. Call for help: Dial emergency services without delay.
  2. Begin CPR: Don’t be misled by the breaths. Start chest compressions immediately.
  3. Use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) if available.